Monday, March 17, 2014
The orderly routine of a district planning meeting was broken by an unlikely musical interlude as an EDP journalist busked a rock n’ roll classic to repay a debt to the committee chairman.
Dereham community editor Chris Hill sang to the Breckland councillors who had assembled for the monthly 9.30am debate on planning applications.
The unexpected entertainment was the forfeit for a fine incurred at a previous public meeting by reporter Kate Scotter, who fell foul of a strictly-enforced rule to prevent mobile phones ringing during the discussions.
Committee chairman Nigel Wilkin usually insists that any such infringements are punishable by a £10 fine, payable to the council chairman’s nominated charity, the Caister Lifeboat.
But after Miss Scotter’s musical ringtone had disrupted the proceedings, he made a one-off offer – that the debt could be repaid if her line manager sang a song to committee members instead.
So her community editor dutifully arrived, guitar in hand, to perform a rendition of the Shakin’ Stevens hit This Ole House – a song about a dilapidated residence in need of rebuilding, chosen as a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the committee’s “sustainable development” ethos.
After accepting a generous round of applause, Mr Hill said: “I’ve played in public before, but I’ve never been as nervous as this – I think it’s fair to say this is not usually the most rock n’ roll venue, so it was quite a daunting prospect.
“My mouth was really dry and I forgot a few words, but most people seemed to enjoy it – although there were a few bemused faces in the council chamber.”
Mr Wilkin said the change to the agenda was “very unorthodox” and told the meeting he did not intend to allow any further musical performances at the meetings.
After the performance, the £10 fine incurred by the EDP reporter was also paid to the chairman’s charity.